We're now living in Ordinary Time.
It sounds so ... well, ordinary. Yet what's extraordinary about it is the way in which it shapes my life. Following the liturgical calendar -- its seasons and its highs and lows -- really sharpens my spiritual life. It keeps me observant, on the lookout for what's coming next. "Ordinary Time" lets me coast, so to speak, to revel in the (okay, yes, I'll overuse the word) ordinary pleasures of our everyday life. We aren't preparing for a feast, or abstaining from anything in particular (unless you count breaking that Christmas vacation habit of chocolate kisses for breakfast.) We're just living day to day, ambling along, catching up on things neglected, falling behind when something irresistable captures our fancy.
These ordinary days will go on until Lent, when it will be time for me to turn inward a bit more, to reflect more deeply on the shape of my prayer life, and to prepare our family for the great, approaching feast of Easter. It will be time, once again, to teach the children, in a deeper way, about sacrifice, repentance, resurrection and joy.
I welcome Ordinary Time. After the preparations of Advent and the celebrations of Christmas, I'm ready to settle back into the ordinary. It's not that I don't love Advent and Christmas ... I do ... I'm not one who complains that the holidays are too hectic, too exhausting, too everything. I welcome Advent with joy, rejoice in Christmas pleasures and celebrate full-force through the feast of the Epiphany. But then, when the season is over, it's as if a wise mom has said, "Okay, that's enough now. Time to put these things away and settle down."
Mom knows we can't celebrate all day, every day.
With the same sincere joy that I welcomed Christmas, I welcome its passing. It's time to move on.
It's just like my dear friend Jack's grandfather used to say to the family at the end of a visit: "Happy to see you come ... happy to see you go."
That's the insightfully practical and oh-so-true wisdom of age, and of the Church.
(This post also appears on Catholic Exchange's "Friends of CE" blog page.)